Music containing violent themes: from curiosity to passion
Many people enthusiastically engage with aggressive-sounding music that contains explicitly violent lyrics. What can account for these inclinations? The present thesis investigated the psychological well-being outcomes from music engagement in passionate fans of violently themed music, as well as potential factors that may facilitate initial and sustained engagement with violently themed music. Three different studies were conducted. Chapter 2 investigated the role of two types of passion, harmonious and obsessive passion, on the outcomes of passionate engagement with music. Chapter 3 aimed to understand the role of morbid curiosity as a factor that facilitates the initial attraction to music containing violent themes. Chapter 4 investigated the overt motivations that music fans have for engaging with music, by developing the Hedonic and Eudaimonic Motivation for Music Scale (HEMM). The results of Chapter 2 revealed that harmonious passion for music is associated with psychological well-being, and obsessive passion for music is associated with psychological ill-being, in fans of both violently and non-violently themed music. Chapter 3 revealed that morbid curiosity was associated with the consumption and enjoyment of genres commonly containing violent themes in a sample of fans and non-fans, as well as the inclination to engage further with novel excerpts of violently themed music in a sample of predominantly non-fans. Finally, Chapter 4 validated the HEMM. Chapter 4’s series of studies revealed that while fans of all music exhibit high levels of both motivations, fans of violently themed music exhibited greater eudaimonic and lower hedonic motivations for engaging with music compared to fans of non-violently themed music. Overall, the results across the thesis support the proposed notion that morbid curiosity and both hedonic and eudaimonic motivations underpin the initial and ongoing engagement with violently themed music. Further, such engagement can lead to the development of passionate fandom, which can facilitate a range of benefits including psychological well-being when fandom is harmonious. A model detailing the process from initial engagement to adaptive outcomes from engagement with violently themed music is proposed and discussed.